Harley-Davidson restoration project stirs admiration in Japanese Internet community

TOKYO —

The heartwarming, true story about a disaster-stricken man being reunited with his long lost Harley-Davidson has made the rounds on the Internet and tugged at the heartstrings of Japanese Internet users in particular.

“They’ve started writing the movie already,” posted one enthusiastic reader on the Topsy.com comments section.

Man loses three family members and nearly all of his possessions in a horrific earthquake and tsunami and spends over a year in temporary housing before hearing one day that someone found his treasured motorcycle 4,000 miles across the ocean, reasonably intact considering the beating it took at the hands of the Pacific Ocean?  We may have something here, Mr DeMille.

Of course, it gets better. Harley-Davidson has agreed to ship the bike back to Japan and cover the bill for restoring the two-wheeler to its past glory.

“Well played, Harley,” user zigneko commented on Topsy. “What a cool thing to do! That’s what you have to do to promote your brand. To everyone else: don’t go throwing your stuff in the ocean hoping to recreate this story!”

There has been an outpouring of respect and admiration for Harley-Davidson’s promise, with some readers pointing to it as an example of “the American way.”

One went so far as to say that this kind of generosity is not possible in Japan. Reader short_context wrote: “This is why Harley is so great. Japanese “monozukuri” companies that assemble by the numbers couldn’t do this.”

Any way you slice it, it’s a great story and certainly not the last of its type as objects large and small make their way around the post-March 11 world.

RocketNews24

  • -13

    serendipitous

    Never knew a Harley could float....let alone float 4,000 miles! Something fishy here.

  • 7

    Disillusioned

    serendipitous - It was in a container that floated across the Pacific.

  • 4

    Rogerrabbitt

    Lests see more heartwarming stories of generosity and kindness from companies around the world all pitching in to help Japan recover from last years disaster.

  • 8

    YuriOtani

    Oh my I have seen better looking stuff at junkyards. However what Harley is doing is in the true spirit of American generosity. It along with their compassion is what makes America stand out among the rest of the nations. I am often too harsh on the Americans and stories like this remind me of the true American spirit. It is too easy to get caught up in negative.

  • 2

    marcelito

    Good on you Harley D...way to go!

  • 0

    Tamarama

    Bravo Harley D.

  • 0

    Dennis Bauer

    @Disillusioned and how does a container float?, or was it the wooden packaging that made it float, still a commendable initiative

  • 1

    saru_au

    Dennis Bauer , how does a container float?

    http://resources1.news.com.au/images/2011/10/14/1226166/330337-topshots-nzealand-accident-environment-ship.jpg

    some have a basic rubber seal on the doors, so they can trap a lot of air and therefore float, of course after a year some water would get in, so the contents would be damaged

  • 0

    imap2223

    Thank you YURI! Cause you are often too harsh on us. It is good that you can admit it. I respect you for being able to admit that you can be wrong.

  • 1

    imap2223

    @rogerrabbit I agree. But I am going to go one step further. We need to have "PEOPLE" doing that for each other in the name of benevolence, not just for "what am I gonna get out of this". Benevolence and compassion seem to be two words that are not in people's thought process. Too much, "me, me, me".

  • -1

    Kokuzi

    Here's a 2-minute video clip from Canadian news that includes the container, beachcomber and Japanese owner: http://www.globaltvbc.com/tsunami-swept+harley+found+in+canada+after+drifting+across+pacific/6442632566/story.html Thanks to HD for the restoration, but maybe a word of thanks to the Canadian who recognized it's sentimental value would also be appropriate...

  • -14

    Robert Dykes

    Harley is made in Mexico and China. great story, but it has nothing to do with GREAT AMERICAN company. They made TERRIBLE bikes and overcharge people for them.

    This is FREE advertising for them. They get GREAT publicity for this. and the Chinese factories will be working overtime to fill all ther order for bikes that will rust and break down in a less than 1 year.

    Just go to a Harley Forum, many, nearly half of ALL Americans who buy a harely HATE THEM! have nothing but horror stories about them. 40,000$ for a bike that rusts in less than 1 year. I paid $2,500 for my bike and have more fun with than most harley riders. The sad thing is Japanese riders dont know how bad Harely Bikes really are. Its such and image they are caught up in they just buy buy buy anywhere and of course never question that you bike is NOT supposed to rattle like that.

    Hey whatever. You want a harely go buy one I will go buy a 600cc 1998 CBR for 5K and smoke anything on the road and with the extra 35k I have left over I will buy a 2000 Twin turbo Porche 911 so that I have something to drive in rain.

  • 0

    ebisen

    Robert - come on, the HD bikes are not THAT terrible... I guess they are at the same level as Italian bikes (reliability-wise), and quite a bit under the Japanese ones. Nevertheless, Harley Davidson is a way of life, ups (nice long riding trips) and downs (yeah - fixing the troubles) included.

  • -3

    shane7177

    American spirit!!! wonder why? looks like its just simple business isn't it? They get value advertisement and a good name for a small favour! I mean just one bike. Consider a whole lot..... They would definately step back!

  • 2

    marcelito

    Cmon guys - give them a bit of slack - its obvious that someone at Harleys marketing division saw this as an opportunity to get some free brand exposure and marketing opportunity ( and it is a great one ) - BUT at the same time it is still a nice gesture from them...sometimes we should put our cynicism aside for just one moment and be a little positive about things.

  • 0

    YuriOtani

    shane7177, people who buy Harley Bikes buy them because they want them. I seriously doubt many people will buy one because of this action. Which makes their gesture even more honest. My life in Oklahoma has been a pleasant one. The people here with a few exceptions have been very kind. Also if someone says something perfect strangers come to my defense. That would never happen in Japan. As I wrote, I have been very unfair to the Americans. So this is an apology to the Americans. Sometimes it takes just a single light to see the truth. Anyhow Americans are wondrous and will try harder to keeps things in perspective. I do wonder how they will fix the bike. Salt water is horrible! Then again that is where sentimental comes in again. When they are done this will be one of the best!

  • 3

    Tamarama

    Awww, look, or course it it a bit of advertising and self-serving publicity. We can ALL see that. But you'd be surprised at how much small things mean to people who have suffered terribly, as this poor bloke clearly must have. He would feel like the world has somehow forsaken him and that maybe life is a curse, not a gift. That show of goodwill by somebody, be it a mailman or a motorcycle company, is a simple humanitarian gesture of wonderful proportions. If you can't recognise that, well.....

  • -3

    Marcos Vieira

    " ...and with the extra 35k I have left over I will buy a 2000 Twin turbo Porche 911 so that I have something to drive in rain..." Porsche??? You should buy a cheap 2002 Toyota Camry! They will make you feel great, too... Well... Harley is just a bike and the Porsche is just a car... Wonder why people buy them... :-)

  • 3

    cactusJack

    Hope they cast Richard Gere as the man looking for his motorcycle.

  • 5

    borscht

    Japanese "monozukuri" companies that assemble by the numbers couldn't do this.

    Friend rode a Suzuki motorcycle around the world one year and when he got to Japan he called up the Suzuki headquarters to ask for a meet-and-greet and to show them his bike thinking they'd be interested. Nope. They couldn't've cared less.

    When he got back home (London) he went to the dealer where he bought it. They were happy and advertised it etc and even gave him a nice discount on his next bike.

    So, good for Harley - regardless of where they are assembled - for doing an extra bit for a customer. And garnering goodwill for themselves in the highly lucrative Japanese market.

  • 6

    Marcos Vieira

    "Robert, sorry, but I don't agree with you.I've had a Harley for 5 years and still looks brand new. It doesn't rust like the way you said and it hasn't broken anything yet. I have had many other bikes ( yamahas, Hondas, kawazakis, and a Ducati) and my Harley is the only one that looks great on the curb and that makes you feel great when riding it. Harley is by far one of the best motorcycles in the world, period."

  • 3

    Gurukun

    Restore? Why didn't they just give him a new bike? With the frame rusted that much, I'd be scared to ride it again...even if all the other parts were restored.

  • -1

    wontond

    The folks at Harley Davidson did a nice gesture that in return will bring them lots of good will, but more importantly good publicity.

  • 0

    serendipitous

    Thanks for clarifying disillusioned but where does it mention anything in the JT article about the bike being in a container?!

  • 3

    smithinjapan

    There's a lot of thanks that need to go around for this story, from a thanks to the disaster-stricken man for enduring all he went through (not the Harley, per se, but his family and everything he lost altogether), to the Canadian who found it and the city officials that helped track down the owner and get in touch, to Harley Davidson for offering to do what it did. It's not a story of Harley and the 'American Way', it's a story about people going out of their way in general to help those who have or are suffering. Yeah, it's great what Harley's doing, but lest we forget a LARGE part of that is commercial opportunity, and even this article is proof of that. It's awesome, but I wouldn't say it's a 100% heart-felt gesture.

    Anyway, not really sure if this would be any good as a movie, given that it would largely revolve around the motorcycle, but I guess we'll see.

  • 0

    borscht

    serendipitous,

    Thanks for clarifying disillusioned but where does it mention anything in the JT article about the bike being in a container?!

    In an earlier report both on JapanToday and Yahoo News it mentions the container.

  • 2

    Elbuda Mexicano

    Of course, it gets better. Harley-Davidson has agreed to ship the bike back to Japan and cover the bill for restoring the two-wheeler to its past glory. WOW!! That is showing real class by Harley-Davidson! My heart goes out to the poor victims of last years horrible quakes and tsunamis in North Eastern Japan. Although Surpindipidous does bring up a valid point, do these bikes FLOAT?? And float for over 9,000 miles??

  • 2

    lostrune2

    The Harley-Davidson way of life is about enjoying the wide-open roads, not zipping thru them. Like the low-riders. Hope the guy, who lost his family in the tsunami, finds happiness on his next ride on the open road.

  • 0

    serendipitous

    Oh Elbuda. It is serendipitous! Anyway, we have learned that the Harley was inside a container that floated far away. Containers do float just under the surface of the water so are often a hazard to ships. There are thousands floating around the oceans of the world apparently (most having fallen off ships in rough weather etc.).

  • 3

    TrentonGaijin

    Wow, the Harley haters are out in droves on this one.... Don't want one? Don't buy one. I don't want a Honda, Yamaha, BMW, Ducati, or any other brand, but I don't spend my time telling people they're made in China, will rust out in a year, or that "most people" that buy one hate it. Perfectly happy with my Electra Glide (bought at Red Baron in Sagamihara). Stop dragging out the stories from bikes made in the 70s & pretending they apply to the bikes made today (or even 20 years ago)- aside from aesthetic similarities, they're totally different bikes.

  • 1

    scoobydoo

    Reasonably intact? I must ave not understand thee meening off them word when is was learned them

  • -2

    ReaperInc

    @ YuriOtani:

    I am often too harsh on the Americans and stories like this remind me of the true American spirit.

    Calling this the true American Spirit is complete bull. This is just smart marketing, it puts Harley D. on the map as a company of nice caring people, just simple positive image building. I agree that it is very nice to do this, and Harley D. deserves credit for it, but you underestimate the marketing value of a stunt like this.

    I seriously doubt many people will buy one because of this action.

    If that were true no company would show commercials on television either. As said this puts Harley D. on the map as a company that cares for its customers, so a lot of floating buyers who are unsure of what brand to buy might go for a Harley because of this. That's how commercials work and a lot of people tend to fall for them.

  • 1

    presto345

    Nice gesture, period.

  • 0

    BurakuminDes

    Theyve started writing the movie already,posted one enthusiastic reader on the Topsy.com comments section

    Gee whiz - that would be one big yawn fest of a movie. I mean, is Tom Hanks gonna be in it? Maybe he can play the Harlley owner? Please don't make it, people. Just enjoy the 5 minutes of it. Anyway, nice little story to go along with the soccer ball one.

  • 0

    YuriOtani

    ReaperInc, they do not need to be put on the map, they are the map. There is a certain type of person who wants a Harley. They do not need commercials and in Japan there is a number of Harley Otaku. If it was a honda the poor fellow would receive a letter saying the warranty was void from abuse!

  • 2

    imap2223

    @DYKES. You have got to be kidding me. What you have written here is complete nonsense. I know many Harleys owners. And they love their Harleys. No, they don't break down as you have said here any more or less than other bikes.

  • 0

    Mirai Hayashi

    I wonder if this is for a reality TV show

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